US food company Neogen acquires UQ's animal genomics lab

By Mansi Gandhi
Wednesday, 06 September, 2017

Global US food and animal safety company Neogen Corporation has acquired the assets of The University of Queensland Animal Genetics Laboratory (AGL).

Neogen expects the deal to accelerate the growth of the company’s animal genomics business in Australia, New Zealand and Oceania. With the acquisition, AGL will be renamed GeneSeek Australasia and become Neogen’s fourth animal genomics laboratory — joining locations in the US, Scotland and Brazil, according to a company statement.

AGL supplies genetic testing services to all 27 of Australia’s major beef cattle associations, and its services have also extended to dairy cattle, sheep, goats, alpacas and other species. The laboratory has been a significant customer of Neogen’s suite of GeneSeek genomic products. Its annual revenues are approximately US$3.1m (AU$3.87m).

Acting State Development Minister Mark Furner announced the development as part of the government’s $40 million Advance Queensland industry attraction fund. “NASDAQ-listed Neogen Corporation has chosen Queensland as its headquarters in Australia. It will invest in new laboratory facilities, equipment and infrastructure facilities and help position Gatton as the hub for animal and agricultural genomics in Australia,” said Furner.

UQ School of Veterinary Science acting Head Associate Professor Jenny Seddon said GeneSeek AustralAsia would build on the work of UQ’s Animal Genetics Laboratory, which has provided genotyping and diagnostic services to the Australian livestock industry since 1985.

“UQ’s Animal Genetics Laboratory has grown enormously in recent years and last year it celebrated its 500,000th cattle sample, including poll gene marker tests to help breeders select the best breeding cattle for their herds and to breed hornless cattle to help industry end the painful practice of dehorning beef cattle,” she said.

“The establishment of a leading agribusiness corporation at the UQ Gatton campus provides an immediate showcase to undergraduate and postgraduate agriculture, food science and veterinary science students of the benefit of genomics to Australian innovation.”

UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj said, “With the global population predicted to grow to 9.8 billion by 2050 — increasing pressure on land and water resources — primary producers around the world face the challenge of how to do more with less, and with minimal environmental impact.

“Genomics offers a powerful way to improve the productivity, quality, diversification and resilience of plants and animals.”

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